ST. LOUIS, MO – Motivational speaker Eric Thomas made a stop in St. Louis last month. A video of his speech to Vashon High School students going viral after an interruption. Thomas told the students and teachers that is was a symptom of something he only sees when visiting African-American schools.
The motivational team made a stop to the juvenile detention centers and low achieving high schools. He visited Vashon High School during this trip. The video says that about 70% of the district’s students read below grade level.
Thomas begins by telling the crowd his story. He dropped out of highschool and lived homeless in Detroit for two years. His life turned around when he met a preacher who inspired him to go back to school.
The speech takes an unexpected turn when he had to tell a group of students to be quiet several times. Things got intense.
Thomas explains that he gets paid $50,000 to $100,000 to speak to corporate groups. He was doing this for free to help them and wasn’t going to be interrupted again.
“When people love you, you don’t do them like dirt. When people care for you, don’t disrespect them. You ain’t got but a few people who care about you in this world. Didn’t you hear what I just said? If you’re in the wrong place, you’re going to get shot and killed. No one is going to jail for it.
You got the nerve to act the fool when somebody cares about you? You’re talking when I’m talking. Do you know that if I go to a Jewish school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a white school, those kids are quiet. If I go to a Latino school, those kids are quiet. The only kids that disrespect me are black kids.
That’s it, my own, are the only ones who disrespect me. I work in any other school and they’re taking notes. I come home, you’re talking. You’re capping jokes. You think something is funny. Look how we’re living. Ain’t nothing funny. Ain’t nothing funny y’all.
I have my PHD. They’re asking me what’s wrong with urban schools. I’m like why are you asking me? I’m in class just like you’re in class. The teachers and professors want to know what is the problem with the schools.
I’m embarrassed. You want to know why? What they don’t know is that you’re not even trying when you take a test. You didn’t give your best. They think you’re dumb. You ain’t dumb. We survived slavery, and you can’t pass a test? Come on!
I ain’t stupid. You take everything from us and we still survive. You want to tell me that you don’t want to learn how to write? Have you lost your mind? We are survivors. That is all we do is survive.
You can take a test. The problem is that when you do, you barely take the test. I challenge you to go in there and do your best. I challenge you to go into class and act like you have some sense. No one has to put you on medicine. You know how to sit down and shut up. You do it when you’re watching videos.
Listen to me, you’re mine. “
The video concludes: “Always know where you’re going, but never forget… Where you come from.”